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affirmed its February sales outlook and said general merchandise has recently been selling better than food.

In a press release, the discount giant predicted a same-store sales gain of 2% to 4% in the month, following a 3.2% gain in January and a 3% rise in December. The February period goes from Jan. 29 to Feb. 25.

Wal-Mart said the Northeast was the strongest region last week.

At its Friday close of $53.46, Wal-Mart's stock is up 1.2% on the year and 2.2% since the start of 2004. The company reports fourth-quarter results Feb. 17.